Summer is full of talk about getting a “bikini body,” which after a while can make any girl feel uncomfortable with herself. With magazine covers featuring “perfect” bodies at the beach, by the pool, or running around in shorts and a tank, how are we to teach our daughters to be comfortable in their own skin? They are being bombarded with messages about what they “should” look like, so it is more important than ever we talk to them about what they are hearing, thinking, and feeling. Summertime subjects like the “perfect body” or “bikini bodies” are great opportunities to talk to your daughter about how she sees herself and those around her. Here are the ABCs of instilling a healthy self-image in your daughter.
Summertime is a great time to take an adventure with your daughter, which can have a great impact on self-image. When you take a step outside of your comfort zone with her and try something new, it helps increase self-esteem by showing that she is capable of more than she may even realize! Especially if that something includes some sort of physical exercise or outdoor activity, it can help her see her body as strong and capable instead of merely something to be looked at. Participating with your daughter can help not only her self image, but yours too, and be a bonding experience!
Your words have a long-lasting impact on your daughter and her self-image. What you are saying every day about yourself, those around you, and your daughter herself, is constantly changing what she thinks about her physical features. Make sure you are speaking life over yourself, your friends, and your daughter. Your relationship with your body is the primary model she has for how an adult will feel about themselves. If she sees you complaining about yourself or others, she will see that as how self-image is supposed to work. When you are thinking a positive thought about your daughter, be sure to communicate it to her so she might believe it for herself. Your words are thoughts that will follow her throughout her life. When you are feeling good about yourself, communicate that to her so she sees you appreciating the body God gave you — genuinely enjoying your body’s appearance as part of God’s creation is a rare thing in this culture, but if you display it, she will pick up on it.
As you discuss the latest summer movie, book, or TV show, ask your daughter about how she felt about the different ideas and behaviors. Having an open dialogue about the things your daughter is seeing in the media will open the lines of communication between the two of you, and help her consciously process what she is hearing and seeing instead of letting it subconsciously affect her. All too often, the effects of media on self-image are not realized until the ideas and attitudes have firmly planted themselves, so it is important to take the time to acknowledge and process them early on.
Raising daughters to be confident in themselves and comfortable in their own skin is more important than ever. The media and many girls’ peers are not encouraging a healthy, confident self-image, so parents can feel pressure to make up for it in a big way. Your encouragement for your daughter does not have to be some sort of spectacular show to make a difference in her life. All you have to do is follow these ABCs to make this summer her most confident summer yet!